Investigative Report - Social Media


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Investigative Report - Social Media

  1. 1. LIS 200018 October 2011 The Rise of Social Media: Following Library 2.0 Principles to Maximize User SatisfactionI. Executive Summary This investigative report examines scholarly articles pertaining to the issue ofsocial media and its relation to libraries. The discussion begins with an examination ofWeb 2.0 services. Web 2.0 is a user-driven, participatory environment. From Web 2.0rose a set of principles and services referred to as Library 2.0. Library 2.0 asserts thatlibraries utilize Web 2.0 technologies to stay relevant in the current Information Age andto provide users with the tools they need to successfully obtain the information theydesire. Libraries are achieving this goal by implementing social networking pages, blogs,wikis, IM/chat features, and physical space changes. The adoption of new virtualprograms has not been without its problems, including an overwhelming number ofoptions to choose from, making sure to update web services constantly, and privacyconcerns. This change is occurring globally, with a push towards information centersfocusing on computer stations and communal areas rather than stacks of books. TheAmerican Library Association and the International Federation of Library Associationsand Institutions are the main authorities for the promotion of librarianship and the driveto transform libraries into interactive communities. The conclusion reached is that it isessential for libraries to adapt to this new participatory virtual environment to ensuresurvival for the years to come. Only by meeting users in the online world they are mostcomfortable in (one in which the users shape their experiences) can libraries effectivelyserve their patrons.
  2. 2. II. Introduction You see it everywhere: on the bus, in the library, in a coffee shop. Prominent onscreens of all devices is that typeface recognized all over the world: Facebook. With animpressive 800 million users and over seventy-five percent of those outside the UnitedStates, Facebook seems inescapable (Facebook 2011). Twitter, while not coming close toFacebook‟s active users in numbers, is quickly gaining popularity for its conciseness. Weshare, we comment, we like, we tweet. Facebook has even become a verb; “I‟ll Facebookyou” can often be heard at social events. Facebook and Twitter are just the most popularsocial networks; there are many others on the Internet. The tide of popularity changesfrequently online. One day another social network may rise to replace the giants of today,like how Facebook overran MySpace. The significance is that, no matter the name, socialnetworks are here to stay. The sentiment of connection and community online is nowfully ingrained in our societal consciousness. For libraries, as perpetual servers ofcommunities, this presents an opportunity unlike any seen in the field before. Librarianscan now connect with and reach out to their users in new and exciting ways. The usershave moved to the online community, and to meet their needs, libraries must do the sameto remain relevant in the current environment.III. Definition, Key Points, and Relevancy Social media can be defined as “technology that facilitates interactive information,user-created content and collaboration” (Elefant 4). Social media is a key part of the newgeneration of the web. To understand the trends libraries should follow to communicatewith their users, one must first define Web 2.0. This term arrived in 2004 to illustrate the
  3. 3. new functions of the World Wide Web. From an unchanging, one-way information routeto an innovative, user-driven community, the Web has become ubiquitous with socialmedia with users participating in every aspect of their online presence. Out of thismentality rose Library 2.0. Michael Casey first coined the term on his blogLibraryCrunch and later said that Library 2.0 “should include three elements: constantchange, giving library users control through participatory, user-driven services andimplementing these to improve and reach out to both present and potential users”(Anttiroiko and Savolainen 91). From a questionnaire of library professionals in Finlandparticipating in a Library 2.0 workshop, researchers identified seven core components tobe interactivity, users, participation, libraries and library services, web and web 2.0,social aspects, and technology and tools (Holmberg et al. 675-6). These definitions placeemphasis on participation by library users. Users control their experience by giving inputand receiving information relevant to their needs and wants. Why should every library adopt a Library 2.0 philosophy? The simple answer isthat the users demand it. Libraries see fewer and fewer patrons within their walls becauseit‟s more convenient to find what they need on their computer at home. Why go all theway to the library when what you need is a click and a second away? This is thementality of the emerging generations. From children just learning to type to teensaddicted to their smart phones, these are the people the library needs to cater to. Peopleare no longer learning technological skills later in life; children are now learning how toutilize technology to their advantage from infancy. A 2007 survey indicated “91% ofteens surveyed are using social networking” and “over 50% of teens…have an onlineprofile somewhere” (Sodt and Summey 99). Those numbers are most likely even higher
  4. 4. today. Libraries need to adopt a philosophy that accounts for this change in skillset oftheir users in order to keep them interested as they grow. Janet Hilbunstresses that“today‟s teens are technologically savvy and use these technologies in a variety of ways”(48). To keep the next generation involved in their libraries, libraries and librarians haveto “meet teens where they are – whether it is on a blog, a website, or a social network”(Hilbun 49). Library 2.0 involves a philosophy that accents creating a community for libraryusers through the use of conversation, participation, experience, and sharing (Stephens255). Open discussion about library policies between librarians and patrons with constantfeedback and responses is crucial. Instead of an elitist, exclusionary attitude, the libraryshould involve users directly in the day-to-day activities. This discussion andparticipation leads to improvements in service. The experience becomes engaging andchallenging when the users are learning in an environment they created and influenced.Connections come from the sharing of opinions and library use among communitymembers. Library 2.0 paints the picture of a user community that directly influences itsexperiences to become the most beneficial it can be.IV. Problems and Solutions The essential nature of a library is its continuing services as an information center.Libraries have the resources and librarians can find them. Patrons have high expectationsof what a library can do and “libraries can adopt the Web 2.0 technologies and Library2.0 philosophies to better serve their customers” (Sodt and Summey 107). With Web 2.0technologies, libraries can move their information online to provide easy and convenientaccess. However, there are a multitude of options to do this: social networks, blogs, wikis,
  5. 5. chat, and more. In adopting new programs, libraries ran into the same problem as theirpatrons: information overload. There are so many different programs available that thechoice of how many to include in the library‟s services and which ones became a difficultconundrum that libraries will continue to face for many years to come. Sodt and Summeywarn “librarians would go insane trying to adopt and implement everything at once”(107-8). The solution is to pick and choose which programs best serve each library‟scommunity. Not every social outlet will be ideal for the specific users a library serves.Chu and Meulemans recommend “explor[ing] options and appropriately, minimallyintegrat[ing] new tools into the existing array of technology used in [the] library” (74).To decide which option is best, user input is essential. Feedback provides accurate ideasof how users are reacting to the programs implemented by the library and helps librariansformulate plans for updating and improving the library‟s online presence. Changing alibrary‟s procedures, whether electronic or physical, is a process and “libraries must bewilling to examine all their services and resources and see what might be discarded”(Sodt and Summey 108). Managing a library‟s online services requires consideration anddeliberation. Patrons expect a certain level of innovative technology usage, but “ifmanagers adopt technology too quickly…it can alienate staff and users” (Carpenter andGreen 158-9). A library creates an online profile or begins a new blog, but doesn‟t update orregulate the information. This situation poses the problem in the reasoning of manylibraries that “if we build it, they will come.” Simply having an online presence is nolonger enough. Librarians need to participate in constant upkeep of social profiles or
  6. 6. blogs to provide users with relevant information. A user won‟t visit a site if the site can‟tmeet the user‟s needs. The extensive amount of sharing that is now part of the online experience raisesthe issues of privacy and confidentiality. Facebook is often criticized for its privacypolicies, as the default setting is now the most public one for a user‟s information. Increating online communities where patrons can contribute by writing comments andsharing their personal library use, libraries need to be aware of and sensitive to theprivacy of their users. The ALA demands in its Code of Ethics that libraries “protect eachlibrary user‟s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought orreceived and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted” (ALA). Theproblem comes with the nature of social networks in that a social network “gainsusefulness when you are identifiable…and share information about yourself” (Griffey 35).Libraries have clearly operated under the opposite principle: user information is private.To ensure patron privacy, a library can allow “anonymous comments and tagging withinthe catalog” and maintain the rule that “library users should not be required to identifythemselves publicly in order to participate in virtual services” (Casey and Savastinuk).The most important aspect of bringing the library online is making participation possiblefor all users. If users don‟t wish to identify themselves, it shouldn‟t prevent them fromutilizing all of the library‟s services. Another problem related to privacy is that of minors using online social networks.Serious issues that can result in emotional damage or lead to physical altercations andplace a minor in danger,like peer pressure and bullying, have traveled online as well.Libraries have to maintain the safety of their young patrons. The solution of limiting
  7. 7. access to social networks isn‟t a perfect one. It raises another issue in conflict with libraryprinciples, which promote free and open access to any information. There is a carefulbalance to maintain and libraries must use their discretion.V. Current Models Libraries and librarians have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, blogs, wikis, andmore. While still in a transitional phase, libraries are making their online presence known.Social networking sites are used to spread news about library events, inform patronsabout important library details, and to communicate directly with patrons via theirpreferred medium. Facebook started with groups. Libraries could make a group that userscould join and then messages could be sent to all the members. Though groups are still onFacebook, pages are now the most popular form of reaching many people at once.Libraries can create Facebook pages that users can like. Liking a page means updatesappear in the user‟s daily newsfeed. Utilizing a Facebook page can be a great way toreach users directly with the updates they need to know about the library. Librarians canuse their own personal profiles to reach out to users as well. They can use their wall to“answer questions, post items to talk about favorite books, albums to share pictures oflibrary events, and events to share scheduled events like workshops or library classes”(Sodt and Summey 100). Using both a library page and librarians‟ profiles makes sureusers have multiple ways to find what they need and contribute to the services of thelibrary. Multiple librarians can manage one uniform library page, ensuring that the pagehas constant maintenance. Facebook also shows when a person is online, so a user canalways know which librarian can be reached at the moment of need. Facebook can alsohelp students with their academic career by “remind[ing] students of the library services
  8. 8. and resources available to support their academic success – from expert research help toadditional study hours” (Chu and Meulemans 81). Third-party programmers can createapplications to use on Facebook, which some libraries have implemented. Applicationdevelopment has been mostly used to create catalog-searching apps. The library of theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has an application that uses the library‟ssearch assistant. Patrons can find out what the library owns on Facebook (Sodt andSummey 100). Twitter use is on the rise. Twitter accounts are great ways for libraries togive brief statements about current happenings in the library. Followers aren‟toverwhelmed by information they don‟t need at the time; they just get an immediate ideaof events they might be interested in. Both of these sites serve as promotionalopportunities to “create awareness of library services and events” (Chu and Meulemans82). Wikis can be great resources for students to consult when conducting research orwriting papers. Librarians can fill wikis with “FAQs, hard-to-answer questions,…andpossibly links to online reference resources” (Sodt and Summey 102). Wikis storeanswers to questions students may have during their academic careers in an easy toaccess location. Pitt‟s LibGuides are an implementation of the Wiki idea. LibGuidesprovide links to databases by subject for easy searching. It can become overwhelming totry and search through all of the databases Pitt subscribes to; subject-specific lists narrowthe search pool to the sources most likely to be useful. There are also class-specificLibGuides that are resources to consult during the semester; these will definitely come inhandy for that class‟s assignments. Currently there isn‟t a huge number of LibGuides, and
  9. 9. they certainly don‟t cover everything relevant to attending classes at Pitt, but librariansare working on improving and adding to these guides. Blogs are an informal way for librarians to collaborate to share information withtheir users. Users can get different points of view from multiple librarians who havediverse interests and writing styles. Users can also contribute with comments that canlead to intelligent discussions. Blogs often have space to include other features likecalendars or widgets. Library blogs can be about anything: library news, bookrecommendations, or advertising for new library resources (Sodt and Summey 103).WordPress and Blogger are two completely free blog platforms that are extremelypopular. Librarians can design the blog in almost any way they wish without needing toknow HTML or other coding languages. RSS feeds are commonly used as well. RSS (Rich Site Summary) “allows peopleto subscribe to web sites, blogs, podcasts, or anything else that provides a feed” (Sodt andSummey 104). This is extremely convenient for users, who choose the information theywant frequently and don‟t have to worry about visiting every site they like all the time.Social bookmarking is a similar idea. The most popular bookmarking site is,where users can save links to their favorite sites in one place. The best part of del.icio.usaccounts is that they can be accessed from any device. Librarians can use a del.icio.usaccount to provide expert opinions on important and valuable sites. Libraries are also changing the way they handle requests and inter-library loans toinclude Library 2.0 principles. In-demand purchasing benefits libraries and users.Libraries don‟t need to waste money on items that no one uses and users get exactly whatthey want. This indicates a move towards “a more patron-driven selection process, using
  10. 10. interlibrary loan requests as a collection development tool” (Sodt and Summey 106).Direct patron participation in collection development increases user satisfaction. Traditional reference services were provided by a reference librarian manning aphysical desk in a (hopefully) convenient location in the library with limited hours.Reference services are making the move online with a virtual desk. IM programs likeMeebo let libraries have a widget wherever they want on their webpage. Multiple IMsessions can be maintained at once. While synchronous communication is convenient andeasy to follow when conducting research, librarians can also be reached by email forreference needs. IM lets patrons reach their librarians from the comfort of their home.Utilizing this service is key for libraries that want to appeal to the next generation;surveys indicate that “80% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 use IM on adaily basis” (Sodt and Summey 107). Virtual services aren‟t the only areas libraries are changing. Libraries areredefining their physical space so that patrons can better utilize it. Library 2.0 asserts thatlibraries should follow the wants and needs of patrons and physical space is a toollibraries can use to do so. The focus of the library is no longer the stacks, which are beingmoved or emptied to make room for communal spaces when patrons can interact.Computer workstations are now dominating the library, with tables and chairs nearconvenient outlet access.VI. Research A plethora of studies about social media and libraries exists, but three will behighlighted in this report: one from the perspective of librarians and two from theperspective of users. The first is a study concerned with Facebook and academic libraries.
  11. 11. 244 academic librarians in the United States were surveyed to find out about “thepractical effect Facebook has had on libraries, as well as librarians‟ perspectives,perceived roles associated with, and awareness of Internet social trends and their place inthe library” (Charnigo and Barnett-Ellis 24). 126 librarians returned the survey. Theresults indicated that the majority knew about Facebook, didn‟t think that Facebook hadan effect on other library services, and had no particular like or dislike of the website. Asmall number were enthusiastic about the potential of using Facebook for the library. Asthis survey was conducted in 2007, these opinions seem to be outdated. It would beinteresting to see the results of the same study today. The awareness of Facebook wouldcertainly be higher and the enthusiasm for utilizing Facebook to reach students wouldprobably be as well. Another study was conducted at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) to aidlibrary service development by determining student usage of various technologies. About37% of the student body, including undergraduate and graduate students, was surveyed.The results were as follows: 97% had Internet access at home, 10.5% owned an e-reader,98.8% owned a mobile device, 21% used Twitter, 16.4% used RSS feeds, 64% used IMservices, and 36% listened to podcasts (Cassidy et al.). Interest in library presence onother sites, like Facebook, YouTube, or blogs, ranged from 34-48%. A major point thatcan be taken from this study is that libraries need to cater to their specific populationrather than just following popular trends. Maintaining “excellent core services” must be afocus for libraries because without them, a “flashy library presence in the Web 2.0 worldadds little value to the user experience” (Cassidy et al. 390). The authors also stress“what is true for one library may not be true for others” (Cassidy et al. 390).
  12. 12. The final study examined member satisfaction in The Commons on Flickr. TheCommons consists of libraries, archives, and museums. The Commons has two maingoals: “(1) to increase access to publicly held photography collections and (2) to providea way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge” (Vaughan 186).The Commons “generally highlight archival, historical content…as opposed tocontemporary photos” (Vaughan 187). The author surveyed all members of the Commons– twenty-seven at the time of the survey (summer 2009). Issues that were cited were lossof control and context of the photos and staff time needed to monitor the comments, tags,etc. On average, 4.2 people per institution were involved with the Commons with noactivity requiring more than ten hours a week. Members chose user-interaction as a mainreason for joining the Commons. The majority said that their photos in the Commonswere available in another online source. The majority also indicated that the overallpopularity of their photos exceeded their expectations. This survey reaffirms thementality of Library 2.0. The institutions were using Flickr to reach their patrons andmore importantly, get their patrons participating and discussing the institutions‟ digitalmaterials.VII. Global View The main trend in international libraries is towards an interactive libraryexperience. The new library utilizes a design “where printed, physical, and traditionalmaterials are presented side by side with digitized, virtual services” (Niegaard 180).These libraries are designed around a common meeting place for users to read or work.Personal immersion in communal knowledge results from these new libraries. Librariesare also being combined with other buildings, like shops and cafés. Japan hosts the
  13. 13. Sendai Médiathèque, which includes the library with an “art gallery, cinema, auditorium,and cyber café” (Niegaard 180). The United Kingdom boasts the Idea Stores in London.The Idea Stores melds the library with shopping and social meeting centers. The IdeaStore promotes adult education in disadvantaged areas in an informal way (Niegaard 182). Denmark libraries are making strides in interactive and intelligent space. Bycommunicating with users to determine common behaviors, these libraries are combiningspace and technology through integration of new technologies like touch screens. TheInteractive Children‟s Library is a project that “focus[es] on learning and interactivity”(Niegaard 180-1). Denmark is also changing from closed stacks to “open-storage areaswith free access for the public” (Niegaard 181). This frees up staff from running back andforth in the stacks and allows users to get their information directly. Denmark librariesare also enthusiastic about 24/7 access. There is “a strong trend in Demark of convertingbranch libraries into all-day, open self-service local libraries with limited professionallibrarian assistance, access by magnetic card, and surveillance of activities via closed-circuit television” (Niegaard 182). In countries struggling to join the information age, libraries can be tools todisseminate information about government and allow citizens to become more connectedglobally. A study of hybrid libraries (libraries with more than one kind of material, i.e.print and digital) in Africa showed that libraries were helping to “bridge the digital dividebetween the haves and have-nots” (Uutoni et al.). The study focused on Namibia. Theauthors assert that libraries should be used more for e-governance and should assist inputting more government information online. Many problems exist for Namibian
  14. 14. libraries: building awareness of e-governance materials, bandwidth issues, infrastructuredevelopment, and lack of funding (Uutoni et al.). In Australia, three public libraries of Victoria have implemented Web 2.0 serviceswith success. The Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation (CCLC) created a number ofblogs for news and library changes, local history, teens, and book reviews. They also useFlickr for photos of a new branch and a Google Maps mash-up to bring people into theirphysical locations. They also utilize to provide links to useful sites. TheEastern Regional Libraries (ERL), with thirteen branches, runs a successful events blog,uses LibraryThing for new books added to the catalog, and a user-generated reviewsblog. The Frankston Library Service, with only two branches, ran into financial problemsso they chose to create a free blog with a fun, informal feel to offset the boring one oftheir official website (Gosling et al.).VIII. Associations and Publications In the United States, the main authority lies with the American LibraryAssociation. The ALA promotes librarianship and has guidelines and codes for everyoneinvolved with libraries to follow. The ALA utilizes Web 2.0 technologies to keeplibrarians informed of current trends in the library field. Librarians from all over thecountry can serve on committees and participate in educational discussions of relevanttopics. The ALA also often hosts webinars to promote professional development. TheLibrary & Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the ALA, focuseson emerging technologies (ALA). Members can learn about applications for newtechnologies. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions(IFLA) represents the library field worldwide (IFLA).
  15. 15. The ALA has two publications relevant to the issue of social media. LibraryTechnology Reports and Smart Libraries Newsletter provide information aboutintegrating new Web 2.0 technologies in libraries (ALA). The IFLA Journal and IFLAPublications Series both deal with how international libraries can promote their servicesand influence the world (IFLA). Library Trends would also be an authoritative source oncurrent trends in librarianship through in-depth articles (JHU).IX. Conclusion Just as Web 2.0 is the next generation of the World Wide Web, Web 2.0 users arethe next generation of library patrons. Libraries need to use these technologies to reachtheir users and stay relevant in the Information Age. The adaptation from a stacks-basedlibrary to a user-driven information center is a continuing process that requires carefuldecision-making. Libraries are in a crucial period where the decisions made today willaffect the future of libraries everywhere. We need to guide a change in society‟sperception of what libraries can do for their communities. There are two major principlesthat libraries should follow in leading this change. In adopting new technologies, librariesmust not rush into it and overwhelm themselves with too many programs. This spreadsstaff too thin and results in programs that aren‟t updated frequently. Stagnant onlinepresence leads to virtual death with no users visiting the pages or using the services.Libraries need to deliberate and determine which programs best serve their userpopulation. The other principle to follow is to adopt programs that allow userparticipation. Today‟s user demands the ability to build his or her online environmentthrough customization and direct input. Libraries should consult their patrons throughfrequent surveys to gain an accurate knowledge of what their users need and desire. The
  16. 16. library field is in transition. New and exciting challenges await those willing to dedicatethe effort to keeping libraries an integral part of society.
  17. 17. Works CitedAmerican Library Association.American Library Association.ALA, n.d. Web. 12 October 2011., Ari-Veikko and ReijoSavolainen. “Towards Library 2.0: The Adoption of Web 2.0 Technologies in Public Libraries.” Libri 61.2 (2011): 87-99. Library Literature &Information Science. Web. 9 October 2011.Carpenter, Miranda and Ravonne A. Green. “Managing Library 2.0.” Journal of Access Services 6.1/2 (2009): 158-62. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 October 2011.Casey, Michael E. and Laura C. Savastinuk. “Service for the next-generation library.” Media Source, Inc. 1 September 2006. Web. 10 October 2011., Erin Dorris, James Britsch, Glenda Griffin, Tyler Manolovitz, Lisa Shen, and Linda Turney. “Higher Education and Emerging Technologies: Student Usage, Preferences, and Lessons for Library Services.” Reference & User Services Quarterly50.4 (2011): 380-91. Library Literature &Information Science. Web. 9 October 2011.Charnigo, Laurie and Paula Barnett-Ellis. “Checking out The Impact of a Digital Trend on Academic Libraries.” Information Technology & Libraries 26.1 (2007): 23-34. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 October 2011.Chu, Melanie and Yvonne NalaniMeulemans. “The Problems and Potential of MySpace and Facebook Usage in Academic Libraries.” Internet Reference Services Quarterly 13.1 (2008): 69-85. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 October 2011.
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  19. 19. Sodt, Jill M. and Terri Pedersen Summey. “Beyond the Library‟s Walls: Using Library 2.0 Tools to Reach Out to All Users.” Journal of Library Administration 49.1/2 (2009): 97-109. Library Literature &Information Science. Web. 9 October 2011.Stephens, Michael and Maria Collins. “Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the Hyperlinked Library.” Serials Review 33.4 (2007): 253-6. ScienceDirect. Web. 9 October 2011.Uutoni, Wilhelm, Wilson Yule, and Cathrine T. Nengomasha. “Electronic governance and hybrid libraries in Namibia.” IFLA Journal 37.2 (2011): 118-25. Library Literature &Information Science. Web. 10 October 2011.Vaughan, Jason. “Insights in The Commons on Flickr.” Libraries and the Academy 10.2 (2010): 185-214. Project Muse. Web. 9 October 2011.
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